Imperialist antagonisms, American military bases and the movement against them

By Manolis Arkolakis
Deputy Chairperson
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

In September 2003, at the International Meeting Against Military Bases, organized in the island of Crete in Greece by ILPS, the participants concluded that peoples’ struggle against imperialism and military bases is necessary as part of the general strategy of the international people’s movement. It is evidence today that the global crisis is deepening and together with the intensification of antagonisms between imperialists contribute in the further exploitation and oppression of the toiling masses. State terrorism as well as police and army suppression have become the only way for the various governments to control peoples’ discontent.

Although the big anti-war demonstrations in Europe and North America against the American aggression in Iraq have stopped, we see that people’s resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan continues and is growing exposing the limits of the biggest military machinery ever seen in the world. Despite the imperialists plans and roadmaps, Iraq is as far from pacification as ever while the escalation of war in Afghanistan cannot be kept secret any more. Recently, in NATO Summit in Bucharest, Americans insisted in NATO expansion eastwards, accepting Croatia and Albania as members and promoting Ukraine and Georgia as part of the next wave. The determined French and German reaction against that plan shows the open antagonism inside NATO alliance. It is obvious that the formation of the protectorate of Kosovo, supposedly as a new independent state, will make the Balkans again a field of imperialist rivalries.

More than four thousands American soldiers dead in Iraq is an indication of the US failure to impose their hegemony. Therefore American imperialists adopt new policies, more dangerous, to bring catastrophe to peoples.

Let’s see the main points of this imperialist aggression and how leads humanity to new adventures:

The USA announced the necessity of antimissile shield in Eastern Europe, supposedly to prevent an Iranian attack. Immediately, Poland and Czech Republic accepted and offered the necessary facilities for the new military bases. It is more than obvious that Russia could not accept it without reaction. Putin made it clear that new missiles systems will be developed regarding the new NATO bases as the main threat. The new Russian bourgeoisie feel politically and economically strong enough to face the scenario of a Cold War. As if it had ever ended.

The intensification of imperialist antagonisms in Europe, for example NATO expansion eastwards, new statelets-protectorates prove that the USA want to stabilize their hegemony in the Western Block. Some European states though are not willing to give up their own interests and react against such a development.

Russia use the gas pipelines, its huge resources and adopts a more dynamic strategy, not only on economic level, in order to change correlations and control again its backyard.

Imperialists and Zionists carry on the genocide of the Palestinian people. Palestinian liberation struggle as well as the tensions in other Arab countries create an explosive situation in the Middle East.

In Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, imperialists manipulate nationalism, real or unreal differences between ethnic groups, the phantom of terrorism, on behalf of democratic rights, even in defence of environment in order to protect their own interests. Without hesitation they invade countries, redraw borders, create new statelets controlled easily economically and militarily and finally drive millions of desperate people to immigration.

The US imperialists try to keep Russia confined inside its borders and want to control the pipelines in Black Sea. For that reason, they have imposed their political will and military presence in Central Europe and the Balkans. According to this policy, the Balkans are spread with protectorates like Kosovo and Republic of Macedonia, full of military troops. Keep in mind please that the French chief general of Euro-army expressed the EU indention to send also European troops in the region, while Russians signed new contracts with Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. In other words, imperialist antagonisms in full development.

New military bases spread around the world

According to above geopolitical situation, the strategic target of US imperialism is the global domination (or just hegemony, as some put it after US failure in Iraq). Therefore the US Army has to reconsider the new priorities for military presence in particular countries all over the world. According to media reports, American military premises are over 580,000 on a land of 120,000 km². There are 823 important military bases outside USA, most of them in Germany (287), Japan (130) and South Korea (106).

Military bases have played decisive role in US-NATO expansion, the control and submission of countries and peoples, imposing hegemonic position amongst imperialists. Especially in Europe, during the war which split up Yugoslavia, imperialists used mainly their military bases in Italy and Greece. After the war, the first concern for Americans was the creation of a new base for their own troops. In the borders of Kosovo and Republic of Macedonia 10,000 arcs have been occupied for the creation of the biggest US military base, called Boldsteel. According to various reports, the specific base will control 350 km and 75 bridges. Spread rumours say that Americans call it Little Guadànamo.

Another strategic plan demands the move of various bases from Germany and Italy to Eastern European countries as an apparent indication of NATO expansion. Bulgarian government accepted the presence of 5,000 American soldiers on Bulgarian soil. They’ll move there no later than October 2008. Czech Republic and Poland gave permission for the installation of the new anti-missile system. Romania, as a new NATO member, offered its ports for the further control of Black Sea, while the air-base Papa in Hungary will be centre of the new NATO organization responsible for aviation transportation.

Americans came to stay in the Balkans and the Black Sea region. Boldsteel camp in Kosovo will be also the guardian of the new American pipeline AMBO (from Bulgaria to Adriatic Sea). For the US government, military bases guarantee hegemonic position amongst imperialists, try to prevent people’s struggles for national liberation and democratic rights.

Black Sea is the new field of antagonism for imperialists: for strategic reasons as well as for the control of pipelines and gas production. US and NATO want to set up a new base in Crimea, in order to prevent any deployment of the Russian Navy. Except the Russian reaction, it is the struggle of the Ukrainian people that prevents such an escalation.

US-NATO military bases in Greece, a typical case

It is like a ritual, every new US ambassador appointed in Athens, before anything else, has to visit the Souda Bay US military base in Crete, the biggest Greek island in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is a gesture to express how significance is the specific port and military base for the US interests in Middle East and Eastern Europe. At the same time, he provocatively demands the local authorities to show openly their complete subjugation. The final goal is obviously to eliminate people’s determination and stop protesting against the continuation of the US military presence. Local authorities would be the agent-provocateur who argue that local prosperity and development depends on the presence of thousands of soldiers while the anti-war, anti-bases movement is responsible for the increasing poverty.

Isn’t that telling that Stekheart, the new US ambassador in Greece, served before in Iraq? With such an experience, in January 2008 he went to Crete and arrogantly in front of local politicians and entrepreneurs demanded their help for changing people’s anti-imperialist sentiments, smashing the organized resistance of the movement. In his own words, Cretans have to welcome the US troops because they spend money. In other words, the biggest Greek island has to become a huge brothel and this is called economic perspective against crisis and unemployment. Perhaps it is needless to say the bases are responsible for the actual environmental destruction of the region, mainly and most criminally by nuclear pollution. Eastern Crete is the region with the highest percentage of cancers related to nuclear contamination.

You must keep in mind also, that the Greek territories are very important for US and NATO military operations in the Balkans, Palestine and Lebanon as well as in Iraq and Red Sea. There are at least five known US and NATO military bases and camps and their role in the invasion on Iraq are well known, while recently it came out the unanswered question about their use for torture of prisoners from Iraq and Afghanistan and as intermediate stations for transfers to Guadànamo.

Global anti-bases, anti-imperialist movement

The anti-bases, anti-imperialist movement, all these years has given small and big battles against imperialist raids, against the use of various regions as military bases. It is true that after the mass movement in 2003, against the US invasion in Iraq, the situation looks like a retreat, mainly in Europe. Besides the weakness of the real left organized forces that would give to the anti-war movement refreshing perspective and enduring activities, we cannot underestimate the dominant concept within the anti-global movement trying to beautify the European Union and its supposed role as a “peace force”. A fallacy exposed by the European troops themselves involved in the occupation of Afghanistan. However, a new development seems to take place in the former Eastern European countries. New, though weak at the moment, movements appeared against the installation of US-NATO military bases, despite the fact that their governments are competing each other in obedience and subjugation. These movements are facing fierce state repression like in Crimea, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Rumania (during the recent NATO summit in Bucharest, the basic democratic rights of speech and protest disappeared).

From Eastern Europe to South Korea, from the Philippines to Latin America, peoples either spontaneously or organised, resist against war and military occupation as imposed by the presence of US-NATO military bases. The struggle against them, against imperialism and war is a life or death struggle for the peoples and that’s why the progressive, left, and revolutionary forces must lead this struggle. They must relate this struggle with the struggle for the defence of labour and democratic rights. They must hold the fierce attacks of the capitalist-imperialist system. The aggravation of the inter-imperialist rivalries, particularly in the Balkans, brings new dangers for the peoples in the region. In order to impose their domination, imperialists use and spread among the peoples the viral ideology of chauvinism and racism. In contrast, we should develop a broad movement against imperialism and war, against further installation of US-NATO military bases fighting for their closure. Imperialists are redrawing borders with peoples’ blood and the peoples have no other option than paving the way of mass struggle.

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